Finance Minister Colm Imbert. File photo/Ayanna Kinsale
SOME $815 million in supplementation of the 2022-2023 national budget will include $800 million towards in an unpredicted shortfall for the fuel subsidy plus $15.56 million on the maintenance of buildings housing TT’s overseas missions, Finance Minister Colm Imbert told the Senate on Wednesday.
He was piloting the Finance (Supplementary Appropriation) (Financial Year 2022) Bill, 2023.
Imbert said an unexpected shortfall in the fuel subsidy had been incurred by hikes in the global oil-price due to the Ukraine War, meaning that the Government now had to allocate extra funds to the now more costly fuels being imported for TT’s motorists.
He explained that the $800 million was to retire advances owed for the fuel subsidy (which is enjoyed by motorists at the pump.)
He said subsidy sums pass through NP and Unipet, but in effect are paid from the Government to Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd.
Imbert said the sum covered unforeseen expenditure on the fuel subsidy for January-September 2022.
He said originally the budget had been predicated on an estimated global oil-price of US$65 per barrel, with estimated an fuel subsidy of $300-$400 million.
However Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine in February 2022 had pushed up the world oil-price, which have even once reached to US$130.
“The price of oil is a double edged sword,” Imbert said. He said while the higher price brings TT more revenues (for exporting its crude oil for sale), the country also incurs a higher fuel subsidy (paid by government on imported refined fuels such as gasoline.)
Imbert said a $15.56 million sum was paid to fund the repairs of building housing TT’s missions plus the provision of security for these. He noted some missions – in Washington DC, New York and Toronto – had suffered damaged such as wetted carpets due to recent severe weather in North America. He justified the expenditure by saying it was impractical for TT to wait on insurance companies to pay for the costs of damage, saying, “It takes a while for settlement with insurance companies.”
Imbert reiterated that fiscal 2022 had brought TT its first budget surplus in 14 years – over $1 billion – as revenues of $54.3 billion had exceeded expenditure of $53.1 billion.